Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

2/19 Ricketts: “We can go to the playoffs”

The Cubs’ offseason acquisitions weren’t exactly breaking news and the team is coming off a 96-loss season but chairman Tom Ricketts is optimistic about the 2014 campaign.

“I think we have a team right now that can go to the playoffs,” said Ricketts, who told the players the same thing prior to the first full squad workout on Wednesday.

“We have a good young nucleus,” he said. “You have to build a championship team and we’re doing that. We have good young guys on the team this year and we’ve got good guys coming and every year we’re going to keep getting better and better and better and we’re going to be consistent contenders. If these guys step up and play to their potential, we’ll be fine.”

New Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Ricketts’ message wasn’t much different from what he told the players.

“I think we expect it,” Renteria said about competing in the postseason. “We talked to the players about having high expectations. I don’t know why we’d want to hold ourselves back from going out and playing the game a certain way and expecting if we do things right, we have a chance to win.”

Renteria is aware of the Cubs’ history, and the fact that the team has not played in the World Series since 1945 and not won a championship since 1908.

“I think they’ve been reminded enough,” Renteria said of the Cubs players. “What I try to do is think about today and that was the focus is that we’re moving forward and every day we’re moving past what has already occurred. It’s all kind of relative.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/11 Ricketts: Thanks, Cubs fans

In a letter to season ticket holders and Cubs fans, team chairman Tom Ricketts called the 2013 season a “challenging” one, and said it was a difficult decision to dismiss manager Dale Sveum but a necessary move to fulfill the long-term vision. The Cubs finished in last place in the National League Central, and Sveum was dismissed the day after the final regular season game.

“The search [for a new manager] is underway, and our focus will be on providing the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the Major League level,” Ricketts said.

The Cubs’ efforts to improve the baseball organization have “resulted in promising advancement toward our family’s organizational goals of winning a World Series, preserving Wrigley Field and being a good neighbor in the City of Chicago,” Ricketts said.

“We continue to be optimistic about the future of this franchise and our plan for sustained success,” he said in the letter. “We aspire to become the best organization in baseball and have made strides in this direction. We acquired young, impact talent through trades, the First-Year Player Draft and a weighted investment in this year’s international signing class.

“No team in Major League Baseball has spent more on combined first-year and international amateur talent than the Cubs over the four years of our family’s ownership,” he said. “This investment in young talent is a significant driver of our system’s improvement and reflective of our current strategy to focus baseball resources on players who will contribute to the Chicago Cubs over the long term.”

Ricketts pointed out the Cubs’ Minor League system now ranks second in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus.

“We’re proud to employ many of the best scouts and player development staff in the game to help us find, commit and develop these exciting young players, and they’re already helping us win,” he said, pointing out that three of the five Minor League affiliates advanced to the playoffs.

Ricketts said player development and training are critical to the Cubs’ goal to win a World Series, which is why they invested in a new Spring Training facility, which will be used for the 2014 Cactus League season. The field dimensions are reminiscent of Wrigley Field as well as some of the stadium’s structural elements.

This year, the Cubs also opened a 50-acre state-of-the-art baseball academy in the Dominican Republic that includes baseball fields, training facilities, player housing and an education center.

As for the restoration of Wrigley Field, Ricketts said they are “closer than ever to restoring this soon-to-be 100-year-old ballpark.”

“We have made significant progress toward obtaining the city approvals for our $300 million private investment in Wrigley Field, which will include better player facilities, new fan amenities, improved concessions and restrooms, while maintaining what fans love about Wrigley Field,” he said.

The Cubs plan to offer more events, such as concerts and sporting events, as well as family-friendly activities at the ballpark.

“Perhaps most importantly, this restoration will provide long-term incremental revenue that will be reinvested into the baseball team,” he said.

Ricketts noted the team has donated more than $2.3 million to hundreds of Chicago area charities this year, part of the Cubs’ effort to be a “good neighbor.” The Chicago Cubs Charities introduced new programs such as the Cubs Scholars program, the Cubs on the Move Fitness Trolley, and the Diamond Project, a community impact program that will provide grants to build and revitalize baseball fields in the Chicago area.

“From top to bottom, our organization has been clear about adopting a long-term approach to becoming a championship-caliber franchise, and the 2013 season played an instrumental role in that transformation,” Ricketts said. “This organization is becoming stronger and healthier. We have added young, impactful talent throughout our system and will provide the facilities and infrastructure required for them to succeed—which means an increasing number of homegrown players joining the Major League roster ready to win while playing ‘The Cubs Way.'”

Ricketts closed his letter by saying thank you to fans, and asked them to “please say ‘hello’ when you see me at the ballpark next year.”

7/9 Congrats to Cubs Scholars

The Chicago Cubs leadership team and front office honored the first class of Cubs Scholars, five high school seniors who will collectively receive $100,000 in scholarships and a Cubs College Prep program. The five students were selected in partnership with Chicago Scholars based on academic achievement and potential; community participation; need; leadership potential; and the ability to be a team player.

Cubs chair Laura Ricketts and chairman Tom Ricketts met with the students on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs Scholars Program rewards both individual students and the non-profit organizations which support their development. It provides college scholarships to high achievers and grants to the nonprofit programs which nominate and support them.

Here are bios on the five students honored Tuesday:

* Klaudia Dziewulski: Klaudia attends Whitney Young Magnet High School. She has a 4.0 grade point average and an impressive ACT score of 33. Klaudia is a recycling leader for the Eco Club at her school, and is a member of the Model United Nations Team. She also is a member of the National Honor Society and she volunteers at a local elementary school and her church. She hopes to study neuroscience and also start a composting program at her current part-time job at Mariano’s Fresh Market.

* Virginia Garcia-Rico: Virginia is a student at Lake View High School near Wrigley Field. Virginia has a 3.8 grade point average and is in the top 20 percent of her class. She is a cross country runner, participates in the People’s Music School and has served as a Junior Summer Camp Counselor. Virginia was recommended by her school as a strong leader.

* Nikolaus Goecke: Nik is a student at Northside College Prep High School. He has a 3.5 grade point average and a ACT plan score of 27. Nik has been part of a German Dance Group, the American Aid Society Jugendgruppe, since the age of three. He also plays volleyball and has been awarded for his participation in IHSA Forensics Speech. Nik also works with Mikva Challenge. He volunteers at his local fire station and at a local school.

* Golzar Shoberiri: Golzar is a student at CICS-Northtown Academy where she is on the Math Team, Science Club and served as President and Secretary of Student Government. Golzar has a 3.7 grade point average. She has volunteered at a day camp and is very determined to accomplish her goal of becoming a biomedical engineer.

* Felix Velez: Felix is a student at Noble St. Charter-Pritzker Prep where he has a 3.8 grade point average. He participates in the Chess Club and is a competitive singer in the Competition Choir. He is currently learning Russian and was recommended as one of the hardest working students at a very demanding school.

The five will receive a four-year college scholarship of $5,000 per year ($20,000 total per student) upon their enrollment in a four-year college or university. In addition, they will participate in Cubs College Prep throughout their senior year of high school and into college. Cubs College Prep partners each Cubs Scholar with a mentor who will work with them through their senior year and in the transition to college. This program of mentoring, leadership and continued support will offer an educational, motivational and social experience with events like career days, corporate partner career seminars and tours, motivational seminars with Cubs alumni and executives and social events such as Cubs games and on-field recognition ceremonies. The students also will participate in a Cubs community volunteer project.

6/6 Help out Oklahoma & Ty Wright

Chicago Cubs Charities will contribute $5,000 towards Double-A outfielder Ty Wright’s efforts to raise funds for the people devastated by the tornadoes in central Oklahoma. The Tennessee Smokies and Wright have also started an online auction of sports memorabilia to raise additional funds to send to Oklahoma. All proceeds will benefit the relief efforts of the Central Oklahoma Red Cross.

“The overwhelming response from our fans has been great,” Wright said. “I can’t thank the Ricketts family, the Cubs and Smokies organizations and the fans of East Tennessee enough for their generosity helping those affected from the devastating tornadoes.”

Bidding for the online auction is now open and will end at noon ET on June 17. There are several items from former Smokies, from Major and Minor League players and from Hall of Famers. The auction will be held through

Among the items:
Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks autographed bat
Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza autographed jersey
2012 Cy Young winner David Price autographed baseball
Chicago Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo autographed bat
Smokies pitcher Trey McNutt game-worn, autographed glove

4/15 Ricketts: If approved, Cubs will win

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts unveiled a $500 million plan for the renovation of Wrigley Field, which includes a video scoreboard in left field as well as significant improvements to the Wrigleyville community. The Cubs and the city of Chicago reached agreement on the proposal, which has been reviewed in community meetings over the past few weeks, and will continue to be discussed. The Cubs must formally submit plan development designs to the city for more public hearings before it is finalized, and that could be completed within the next few weeks.

“If this plan is approved, we will win the World Series for our fans and our city,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts called Monday a “milestone” for the Cubs. The team first revealed its five-year renovation plan at the Cubs Convention in January. No public dollars will be needed to save the 99-year-old ballpark. The Ricketts will pay $300 million to renove Wrigley over five offseasons, and spend another $200 million on a hotel/retail complex at Clark and Addison Streets where the McDonald’s restaurant now exists.

“I always believed, and I still believe, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do what’s right for Wrigley Field, not only economically,” Ricketts said during a news conference on the ballpark’s concourse. “It’s a special place and has a special role in baseball history.”

Besides being home to the Cubs, Wrigley Field also is the third largest tourist attraction in Illinois and provides a huge economic boost to the city of Chicago.

One of the top priorities is to renovate the home clubhouse. Players at other ballparks have access to batting cages during games; the Cubs’ batting cages are under the bleachers and players instead use a batting tee in the clubhouse and hit into a net.

“We don’t want to be telling our players this is a first class organization and give them second-rate facilities,” Ricketts said. “It’s not just how it looks and how it feels but how it works. We’d like to get batting cages built, better training facilities built. The ability to do that will be subject to how quickly the process moves.”

The additional revenue generated from a new video scoreboard, advertising, etc., will be channeled into the baseball operations budget.

“It’s my responsibility to generate as much revenue as I can to give to the guys in the baseball organization so they can put that back on the field to make us more competitive,” Ricketts said. “This is a big step in that direction.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/15 Cubs, city reach agreement

The Cubs and the city of Chicago have reached an agreement on a $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field, which includes the addition of a video scoreboard in left field, more night games and improvements to the Wrigleyville community. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was to meet with the media at 11 a.m. CT Monday to discuss the proposal.

“We are excited about moving forward with the approval process,” Ricketts said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel and [Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward], we believe the Cubs proposal will help us invest in Wrigley Field and the Lakeview community. We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward.”

No public dollars will be needed for the Wrigley Field renovation project. If approved, the Cubs say the proposal would create 2,100 new jobs and generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue for the city, state and county. The jobs include 800 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs, and this would be among the biggest investments currently underway in the city of Chicago.

All designs and construction are subject to a planned development process. The Cubs say community participation and input to this point has been helpful on night games, ballpark design, plaza and hotel. There will be public hearings on the proposal.

* According to the Cubs, the rooftop views will be largely preserved. The Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield -– a video scoreboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than the team’s original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration. Signs will be placed in a manner to limit impact on rooftops.

* If approved, the Cubs would play 40 night baseball games, up from the current 30. If Major League Baseball or its national television contract requires the Cubs to play more than five home night games in any season, such games will be authorized by special ordinance and will not count against the 40-game limit or require additional cost to Cubs. This does not include playoffs, the All-Star Game, events outside the baseball season, events when fewer than 15,000 are expected to attend, games rescheduled because of weather or other cause, or other events excluded under the current ordinance, which will be allowed as well. No Saturday or Sunday night games will be played unless MLB schedules them for national TV purposes.

There is a special ordinance for concerts (maximum of four), with no additional cost to the Cubs. These do not count as a night game, and are permitted on weekends. Anything beyond four concerts will count as a night game.

The Cubs also will be able to play six Friday games, starting at 3:05 p.m. CT. Currently, they are not able to play any at that time, which makes it difficult for the team coming back from road trips.

Under the plan, the Cubs will have the flexibility to schedule smaller events in-season and to schedule off-season events at Wrigley Field without sacrificing a night game or incurring additional cost.

* The Cubs want to install a 6,000 square foot videoboard in left field, and the team will choose the location with the goal to have minimal impact on the rooftops, which surround the ballpark, and with whom the Cubs have an agreement. The videoboard may be further cantilevered over the public street to help further minimize impact on rooftops.

There also will be one sign in right field of 1,000 square feet in the style of the existing Toyota sign now in left. The Cubs will choose the location with the goal is to again have minimal impact on the rooftops.

* The city of Chicago has agreed to vacate the sidewalk and one street lane on Waveland Avenue (from Sheffield to Clark), at no cost to the Cubs, which will be incorporated into the ballpark, subject to a requirement to maintain eight feet of sidewalk. This will allow the left field video board to be moved further north, thus minimizing the sightline impact on rooftops. It also increases the open space on the plaza by moving the office building further North.

The city also will vacate the sidewalk on Sheffield Avenue (from Addison to Waveland), at no cost to the Cubs, which will be incorporated into the ballpark, subject to a requirement to maintain eight feet of sidewalk.

* The Cubs will add a new 14,000 square foot, two-story Captain Morgan Club on Addison Street with a merchandise store and space for visitors’ clubhouse, to replace the existing street-level restaurant.

* New additions to the ballpark in left field and right field corners will allow more flexible space for fans, including connection points to bleachers and grandstands at the height of current bleachers. The right field addition will also include a ground floor restaurant opening (an expanded version of the Sheffield Grill) onto Sheffield Avenue.

The Cubs also will be able to use Sheffield Avenue for weekend home games between Memorial Day and Labor Day beginning two hours before the game and ending at the end of the second inning.

— Carrie Muskat

11/28 Tree lighting at Wrigley

The Cubs will kickoff the holiday season on Friday with a tree lighting ceremony at Wrigley Field. Chairman Tom Ricketts, outfielder David DeJesus, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and Cubs fans and Lakeview neighbors will take part, starting at 5 p.m. CT at the corner of Clark and Addison streets. The 30-foot decorated holiday tree was donated by Christy Webber Landscapes. The tree-lighting ceremony will be followed by a free hour of ice skating at The Rink at Wrigley. The rink is open to the public in the Cubs parking lot at the corner of Clark and Waveland.

10/12 A letter from Mr. Ricketts

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts wrote a letter to Cubs season ticket holders. Here’s his message:

Dear Season Ticket Holder,

With the 2012 season having drawn to a close, it’s time for all of us at the Chicago Cubs to thank you for your support and provide an update on the progress we’ve made toward building a championship-caliber organization. You are a vital stakeholder to this franchise and an important partner in our transformation.

Despite this year’s results in the standings, we are confident the Chicago Cubs are heading in the right direction. Our players, coaches, management and front office have approached their jobs with professionalism, effort and unity, which has created a winning atmosphere inside the organization. It’s our responsibility to turn that effort into additional wins on the field. Our number one goal is to reward loyal generations of Cubs fans with a World Series and we’re reinvesting every dollar spent by our fans into the franchise to achieve that goal.

To achieve our goal, it was clear the team needed a long-term strategy. Over the past year, we recruited new baseball leadership to create and execute a plan for building a consistently competitive ballclub. We now have a long-term strategy in place and a baseball organization focused on delivering a championship to Wrigley Field. That team is communicating openly and honestly about implementing a proven model for sustained success.

As part of that strategy, we are developing a core of young players at the major league level. This season provided an opportunity for homegrown and acquired players to gain valuable experience and establish themselves as potential long-term contributors to the club.

Our minor league system improved in 2012, as the Cubs acquired, drafted or signed a significant wave of new talent into the organization. We welcomed a strong 2012 first-year player draft class into the system, building on a franchise-record investment in draft signings in 2011. Many of these players made immediate positive contributions. In fact, five Cubs prospects were included in MLB’s recently released Top 100 Prospects list; a total topped by only three other teams in the league. A number of our newly acquired players excelled in both the minor and major leagues and look to contribute further in 2013 and beyond.

We’ve welcomed new talent in the front office as well. Perhaps no operation bears more responsibility for advancing our organizational plan than scouting and player development. After a season of evaluation, our scouting and development teams have been reorganized to procure and develop the best amateur, professional and international talent available. Our scouts and coaches have been equipped with state-of-the-art analysis tools and equipment to enhance the club’s analytical capabilities.

In addition to personnel investments, we’ve made significant upgrades to our facilities. We are currently building a new baseball academy to serve our Latin American players in the Dominican Republic. The facility, open year-round, will span 50 acres with baseball fields, training facilities, player housing and an education center, making it the largest academy in the country. Additionally, we broke ground this season on a new Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz., that will be one of the premier training facilities in baseball, as well as a more enjoyable venue for watching a Spring Training game. We continue to make improvements to Wrigley Field’s facilities for our players and fans, with larger scale investments coming down the road. All of these improvements will enhance your fan experience and bolster the club’s ability to attract and develop elite players throughout the world.

Lastly, we continue to invest in the Chicago community to help deserving children and families. The Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities will support a team-record $4.5 million of donations to worthwhile nonprofits and programs across Chicagoland this year. We’re honored to support the people and organizations that make our city a great place to work, live and play baseball.

In the end, we are fans and our goal is to win. We’re committed to building an organization you can be proud of and we’re committed to building a champion the right way. This franchise has embarked on a path that will present challenges along the way, but the destination is promising.

We deeply and sincerely appreciate your ongoing support.

Tom Ricketts Chairman, Chicago Cubs

7/17 New Spring Training site underway

In case you missed it, Cubs owners Tom and Laura Ricketts joined Mesa, Ariz., city and community leaders at a groundbreaking ceremony July 11 for the team’s new Spring Training facility. The new stadium will hold 15,000 people, and the facility was expected to be completed by Spring Training 2014. The Cubs are taking over land which had been occupied by the Riverview Golf Course in west Mesa.

— Carrie Muskat 

2/25 Red Sox say there was “misunderstanding” re: comp

Boston Red Sox owner John Henry met with the media in Fort Myers, Fla., on Saturday. He was asked why the compensation matter between the Red Sox and Cubs wasn’t worked out before Theo Epstein left Boston.

“I think there was a basic misunderstanding between [Cubs chairman] Tom Ricketts and I when we first spoke about it,” Henry said. “I really admire Tom Ricketts as an owner. He’s one of the best owners in baseball. It’s a great organization.

“We probably had a misunderstanding at least as far as expectation,” Henry said. “There was no real agreement. It was just sort of, the best way to explain it is we probably had different expectations based on the first conversation as to what was transpiring.”

The matter was settled this past week when the Cubs sent right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later to the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named. Those players still to be designated will not be on the team’s respective 40-man rosters. The transaction was expected to be completed by April 15.

— Carrie Muskat